Notes on Writing Weird Fiction
Lovecraft’s Writing Process
- Create a brief story synopsis with events in chronological order, not necessarily as narrated. It is not necessary to write this out as this stage can all be done mentally.
- Write a second synopsis in the order of narration and with more detail. Feel free to change the original synopsis if it makes the story work better.
- Write the first draft following the second synopsis and, again, change what needs changing as you see fit.
- Edit the first draft for syntax, rhythm, tones, vocabulary, transitions, etc.
- ‘Prepare a neatly typed copy’, adding revisions if necessary.
The Four Distinct Types of ‘Weird’ Story
- One which expresses “a mood or feeling”.
- Another expressing “a pictorial conception”.
- The third expresses “a general situation, condition, legend, or intellectual conception”.
- A fourth explaining “a definite tableau or specific dramatic situation or climax”.
The Two Rough Categories of Weird Tales
- Tales where “the marvel or horror concerns some condition or phenomenon”.
- Those where the horror “concerns some action of persons in connexion with a bizarre condition or phenomenon”.
The Five Elements of a Horror Tale
Lovecraft theorized that each horror tale involved these five elements:
- Some basic, underlying horror or abnormality – a condition, an entity, etc.
- The general effects or bearings of the horror.
- The mode of manifestation – an object embodying the horror and the phenomena observed.
- The types of fear-reaction pertaining to the horror.
- The specific effects of the horror in relation to the given set of conditions.
Finally, Lovecraft speaks of atmosphere, stating that all “a wonder story can ever be is a vivid picture of a certain type of human mood. The moment it tries to be anything else it becomes cheap, puerile, and unconvincing.”